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Following intense criticism, Apple today walked back its plan to disable Home Screen web apps in the European Union starting with iOS 17.4.

iOS-17.4-Feature-Triad.jpg

Following the release of the second beta version of iOS 17.4, it emerged that Apple had restricted the functionality of iOS web apps in the EU. Web apps could no longer launch from the Home Screen in their own top-level window that takes up the entire screen, relegating them to a simple shortcut with an option to open within Safari instead.

The move was heavily criticized by groups like Open Web Advocacy, which started a petition in an effort to persuade Apple to reverse the change, and it even caught the attention of the European Commission. Now, Apple has backtracked and says that Home Screen web apps that use WebKit in the EU will continue to function as expected upon the release of iOS 17.4. In an update posted on Apple's developer website, the company said:
Previously, Apple announced plans to remove the Home Screen web apps capability in the EU as part of our efforts to comply with the DMA. The need to remove the capability was informed by the complex security and privacy concerns associated with web apps to support alternative browser engines that would require building a new integration architecture that does not currently exist in iOS.

We have received requests to continue to offer support for Home Screen web apps in iOS, therefore we will continue to offer the existing Home Screen web apps capability in the EU. This support means Home Screen web apps continue to be built directly on WebKit and its security architecture, and align with the security and privacy model for native apps on iOS.

Developers and users who may have been impacted by the removal of Home Screen web apps in the beta release of iOS in the EU can expect the return of the existing functionality for Home Screen web apps with the availability of iOS 17.4 in early March.

Apple previously claimed that it had to make the change to how web apps work in iOS to comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA), arguing that third-party browsers used with web apps in Europe could expose users to unlawful security and privacy risks. It believed that the adjustment would only affect a small number of users. Apple still needs to make a range of changes to its platforms in the European Union, such as allowing third-party app stores, by the DMA's deadline of March 6.

Article Link: Apple Walks Back Decision to Disable Home Screen Web Apps in the EU
 

simps100

macrumors 6502
Sep 24, 2012
380
187
UK
So basically apple thought they couldn’t offer web apps using webkit because of the DMA regulations and it wasn’t worth their time rewriting how it works so scrapped web apps in the eu, uproar follows and it actually turns out using webkit for these is ok? It’s good to know the regulations are clear!
 

thays133

macrumors 6502a
Mar 25, 2021
523
984
Oh look the government basically started looked at and what everyone suspected Apple excuse was BS. This move might be to slow down the next part of their 3rd party App store rules are just as base and malicious compliance. I dont expect them to back off and now going to say prove why the cost are as high as apple is claiming and they are still demanding the cut.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
14,603
20,724
So basically apple thought they couldn’t offer web apps using webkit because of the DMA regulations and it wasn’t worth their time rewriting how it works so scrapped web apps in the eu, uproar follows and it actually turns out using webkit for these is ok? It’s good to know the regulations are clear!
A careful reading shows that they’ve just re-enabled WebKit.

Their concerns about having to rearchitect the security posture to allow 3rd party web engines still stands, and I assume it will done via iOS 18 (.1,.2,.3, who knows).

If the EU decides to take issue. Apple can now point to the immediate need for the WebKit version that developers have brought up while simultaneously engineering their solution for 3rd party engines at a later date.
 

NT1440

macrumors G5
May 18, 2008
14,603
20,724
Oh look the government basically started looked at and what everyone suspected Apple excuse was BS. This move might be to slow down the next part of their 3rd party App store rules are just as base and malicious compliance. I dont expect them to back off and now going to say prove why the cost are as high as apple is claiming and they are still demanding the cut.
Apple didn’t change a thing, they turned 3rd party back on USING WEBKIT. That doesn’t address the complaints the like of Mozilla/Google/Microsoft in any way, shape, or form.
 

kgelner

macrumors member
Oct 28, 2003
38
38
Denver, CO
Apple previously claimed...arguing that third-party browsers used with web apps in Europe could expose users to unlawful security and privacy risks.
And Apple still claims this, they are only allowing progressive web apps to use WebKit, not third party browser engines. If they are forced to allow PWAs to use other engines, they will be removed again.
 

jarman92

macrumors 65816
Nov 13, 2014
1,476
4,574
So basically apple thought they couldn’t offer web apps using webkit because of the DMA regulations and it wasn’t worth their time rewriting how it works so scrapped web apps in the eu, uproar follows and it actually turns out using webkit for these is ok? It’s good to know the regulations are clear!

Doesn't seem like anyone knows if only allowing WebKit for web apps is OK under the DMA. But Europe has a great system whereby the government promulgates vague rules, companies try to comply based on their best reading of the rules, then the government fines them if they guessed wrong. So we'll find out in a few months if this is OK. Personally, I fully expect the EU to fine Apple for this anyway.
 

chucker23n1

macrumors G3
Dec 7, 2014
8,525
11,280
But not web apps that use third-party browsers? The plot thickens! :eek:

(even if it was a plot twist that was a tad obvious 😝)

That isn't any more complicated than "Apple would need to make an API to let third-party browsers create their own home screen web app launchers", which is not trivial. Even if the courts force them to do it, they'd probably need a few months to get it right.
 

ThatsMeRight

macrumors 68020
Sep 12, 2009
2,289
251
What Apple is doing with iOS 17.4 is called malicious compliance.

Their lawyers will surely have checked everything and clearly they believe they can get away with it. It's a risky endeavor for Apple, since the fines are very significant - even for a company like Apple.

In this case, there were already some hints that this was something the EU could easily act on. Wise decision to revert. Probably won't be enough, though.
 

Delivered

macrumors member
Jul 7, 2022
92
120
The best part is. All of this is iPhone specific. If you have an iPad this doesn’t affect it so the iPhone in the EU will have access to things not available on the iPad. This is a mess. lol.


Vision Pro does need to be a full computer though using a Mac on vision pro isn’t as good as Vision Pro native apps and they need to open that up like the Mac.
 

ThatsMeRight

macrumors 68020
Sep 12, 2009
2,289
251
I thought they said they had to do this to comply with the DMA lol was that a lie?
It was. Nearly every implementation of the DMA by Apple is done in a malicious way.

Just look at their implementation of third party apps. The company that's built MacOS - with an extremely large library of external apps - suddenly doesn't know how to allow apps outside of the App Store without making it extremely inconvenient and troublesome.

They're also introducing a new App Store policy that developers can choose. This policy is again extremely troublesome. And even worse: once a decision is made, it's irreversible. A tactic clearly done to scare developers from leaving the 'pay us 30% walled App Store garden'.
 

ovrlrd

macrumors 65816
Aug 29, 2009
1,384
146
People don’t seem to realize that the EU regulation is such that you don’t know you are in violation until the EU tells you that you are. It was actually up to Apple to interpret the DMA the way they did and hope they got it right. Now because of backlash they will do it another way and also hope the EU is fine with it (spoiler they won’t be).
 
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